I came across this sentence: 船に乗るのは二回目だ

It was an example sentence in a Japanese children's book for learning Kanji, so there's not any context. Because of 目 I took it to mean "this is the second time that I ride a boat."

How could I switch the subject around to say "I'm riding a boat for the second time."? I would guess: 今、二回目に船に乗っている. Is it correct to use 二回目に as an adverb "for the second time" or is there any other (more natural/common) way?

  • I would have translated the book's sentence as "I've ridden in a boat twice". But that aside, I am going to guess (so this is not an answer, merely conjecture), that, since counters count things, whatever you're counting needs to be a noun. So, you've got to nominalize the verb here. – A.Ellett Jun 27 '17 at 18:03
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    「船に乗るのは(これが・今回が)二回目だ」 is the most natural way to say "This is the second time that I ride a boat." I don't see why you want to rephrase it switching the subject. (btw what's the difference between "This is the 2nd time that I ride a boat" and "I've ridden in a boat twice"? Isn't the latter more like 「船に二回乗ったことがあります」?) – Chocolate Jun 27 '17 at 23:03
  • Yeah, "I've ridden in a boat twice" is like 船に二回乗ったことがあります. Besides that, I was confused how to say "I'm riding a boat for the second time." Different from "This is the second time I've been on a boat" in a sense that in the latter the word second is just an adjective. I think I'm looking for how to describe "riding" rather than "this." – requiredandshown Jun 29 '17 at 1:46

"For the second time" = 二回目に / 二度目に
cf. "For the first time" = 初めて / 最初に
"For the third time" = 三回目に / 三度目に"

You can use it like this:

  • 二回目に京都へ行ったとき、金閣寺を見ました。
    I saw Kinkaku-ji Temple when I went to Kyoto for the second time.
  • 二回目に会ったときに電話番号を教えてもらいました。
    (Someone) gave me his number when I met him for the second time.

So your sentence "I'm riding a boat for the second time" can literally translate to:

二回目に船に乗ります。← You'd usually say this before riding the boat
二回目に船に乗っています。← You'd say this while you're on the boat

These are grammatically correct and natural, but we'd usually say it more like 船に乗るのは(これが/これで/今回が/今回で)二回目です。or 二度目です。


「二度も船に乗っている。」 would be close to "I've ridden in a/the ship/boat before."

So, if you are on the boat now, say, 「(以前に)船に乗ったことがある。」

But, if you insist on saying, literally, "I'm riding a boat for the second time," and the sentence you started with is for some reason not satisfactory, try it this way: 「私は只今、二回目の船乗りを経験しています。」 and wait for the strange looks and nods you get. (You can drop the 「経験」.)

It's not that they'll think you're being a crazy 外人、 it's that they'll be wondering why you are being so emphatic.


As far as I have heard it in use, Japanese would tend to accept the phrase that you asked about,「船に乗るのは二回目だ」、 as sufficiently emphasizing that this is the second time. Different emphasis patterns from German.


  • What is the sentence I started with? Is 二回目に船に乗っている correct then? Also, 私は只今、二回目の船乗りを経験しています hahaha I'll remember that :D – requiredandshown Jun 29 '17 at 2:10
  • The original sentence would probably be understood. It might trip you up on the JLPT if you are planning on taking it. But look closely at the particles and verb forms. – Joel Rees Jun 29 '17 at 2:17
  • I may take JLPT, but currently I'm just asking to understand. Is there just not a way to express "for the second time"? In German we'd say zum zweiten Mal. I can't tell if I'm missing something or not. – requiredandshown Jun 29 '17 at 2:33
  • Maybe 「二回目の[船乗り]{ふなのり}です。」 – Joel Rees Jun 29 '17 at 2:44
  • And see my afterthought. Not there is no way to say it, just that there is no need for the alternate way. Emphasis patterns are different from German and English. – Joel Rees Jun 29 '17 at 8:15

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